The sun, moon, and stars are related to earlier conversations on light and darkness, and Creation Week Day Four, but I’d like to revisit this subject because of the prominence these figures have in prophesy.
They were created on Day Four, after the dry land appeared and was adorned with grass and trees (Genesis 1:9-19). Anyone who has completed elementary school should pause at this point to ask, how was it possible for plants to appear before the sun did?
There are Biblical answers to this that will not in any way satisfy scientists, but can be helpful to believers. Day Four in creation is like a great wall that separates belief from unbelief in the Bible as the literal Word of God.
The most literal reading places the creation of time on Day One, because “in the beginning” is a reference to time. Day four gives us the sun, moon, and stars “in the firmament of heaven” to provide illumination and to mark the passage of time, but time probably came into existence first. Day four is still a divider between light (truth) and darkness (man’s imperfect knowledge). Genesis says they were made
- to give light on the earth
- to rule over the day and over the night
- to divide the light from the darkness
- for signs and seasons, and for days and years
In the physical sense then, they provided light. There is no problem with taking the literal stance on a six-day creation, because plants can certainly live in darkness for one day without suffering harm. The problem only arises when we try to make the six days into much longer periods, but that position is not supported by other Bible passages. In Exodus 20:11, God confirms to Israel that He created everything in six literal days, and rested on the seventh.
Ruling over the day and night begins to personify the sun and moon, because ruling suggests both intelligence and power, or at the very least, that God used His intelligence and power to give the sun and moon preeminence. When we speak about the Ruler of Darkness, we usually think of Satan and not the moon. Jesus is pictured as the bright and morning star in Revelation 2:28, and as the morning star in 2 Peter 1:19.
The OT also uses the sun as a type of the LORD in Psalm 19:1-5, where the sun is compared to a bridegroom coming forth from his tabernacle, and in Malachi 4:2 where he calls Messiah the rising Sun of righteousness, with healing in his wings.
In Joseph’s dreams, the sun, moon, and stars became figures representing actual people:
“Then Joseph told his brothers. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’ When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, ‘What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” – Genesis 37:9-11
In the spiritual sense, the LORD has indeed given intelligence and power to certain angels and people to rule over the realms of day and night at different times in the Bible narrative. The ultimate spiritual truth about the sun is that it typifies Jesus, but there were many others who became types of Jesus before his birth in different ways. Noah redeemed the world from the flood. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob redeemed Israel by their seed. Boaz redeemed Ruth, the Moabitess, a picture of Jewish Jesus and his Gentile Bride.
In creation, night always comes before day. This means the moon appears first, and the sun afterward. Adam came first, with Jesus afterward. Antichrist appears first, with Christ’s return afterward. Spiritually speaking, the whole OT was night, while the NT tells us about the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, and the kingdom age.
We see the same pattern depicted in many Bible stories. Cain comes first, but falls to take last place after his younger brothers. Jacob is born grasping the heel of his brother Esau, but Esau falls and Jacob takes his place. Reuben was firstborn, but Jacob cursed him along with Simeon and Levi for their actions (Gen. 49:4-5), so Judah took their place as the “firstborn” going forward. Rachel was Jacob’s first choice, but she kept her father’s gods, and Leah became the mother associated with Christ’s lineage. Jesus reiterates this theme in Matthew 20:16 by saying “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.”
The Lord gives us additional glimpses of creation in the Book of Job, where we see first mention of angels on Day Four:
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements? Surely you know. Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 To what were its foundations fastened, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the stars were made and all My angels praised Me in a loud voice?” – Job 38, LXX version
John returns to these types in Revelation:
1And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
3And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
5And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. 6And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. – Revelation 12:1-6, NKJV
Keep in mind that “wonder” in the OT meant a judgement from God. The 10 plagues upon Egypt were called the ten wonders.
The woman can be seen as a person God sends to judge the world. If she is clothed with the sun, we can say that she is clothed in righteousness. This could be said of holy angels, but it can also be said of spirit-filled believers. The moon is under her feet. If the moon is a picture of Satan, then she has victory over sin and death, which is now under her feet. She wears a crown of 12 stars. If this is Israel, then she has come to belief in Jesus and is born again.
Will Israel judge the world? Jesus said his apostles would sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Paul wrote, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” – 1 Cor. 6:2-3, KJV
If she is Israel, then it harks back to Genesis 37 in which the 11 stars were Jacob’s other sons, bowing before Joseph. Her man child seems to be Jesus, with the dragon using Herod to slaughter the innocents of Bethlehem in an attempt to “devour” him.
What about the sun, moon and stars as “signs”?
When Jesus’ disciples asked him about the end of the age (Mt. 24:3), he gave them several non-signs, and then the real signs. The non-signs were false Christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, persecutions, apostacy, betrayals, false prophets, lawlessness, the love of many going cold, and the gospel being preached everywhere.
The real signs are:
- something called the abomination of desolation in Daniel. We’ll skip over that here, but the temple must be re-built in Jerusalem for this to occur
- great tribulation in Israel in which no flesh can be saved without intervention
- the sun darkened, the moon not give its light
- stars fall from heaven
- powers of heaven shaken
- “the” sign of the Son of Man, coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory
Depending on your views about the rapture of the church, this scene will either provoke fear, or not. I accept the view that the Church will be removed from earth before the great tribulation period, but others think it comes later or not at all. I can show from the Bible that both viewpoints are correct, and give the typology supporting it, but that is not today’s subject.
Our subject is that the sun, moon, and stars were made to be signs, as stated in Genesis.
There is more to this discussion, because we have not yet considered the constellations of stars and what they represent.